Christians Against Israel
In an astonishing display of self-deception and anti-Israel theological rhetoric, a group of Palestinian-Christian church leaders have denounced the Jewish state as the main obstacle to peace in the Middle East. In a declaration labeled the Kairos Palestine Document, a message of “faith, hope, and love,” Israel was tagged as the instigator of all significant Palestinian suffering and deprivation. The messengers include leaders of Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican, and Baptist churches.1
We, a group of Christian Palestinians, after prayer, reflection and an exchange of opinion, cry out from within the suffering in our country, under the Israeli occupation, with a cry of hope in the absence of all hope, a cry full of prayer and faith in a God ever vigilant, in God’s divine providence for all the inhabitants of this land….Today we have reached a dead end in the tragedy of the Palestinian people.
The character and tone of the message of “faith, hope, and love” can be seen in a reference that deplores Israel’s very right to exist:
One of the most important signs of hope is the steadfastness of the [Palestinian] generations, the belief in the justice of their cause and the continuity of memory, which does not forget the “Nakba” (catastrophe) and its significance.
The Nakba is the national rebirth of Israel that is officially lamented annually by Islamists, Palestinians, and Muslim enemies of the Jewish people.
Occupation is the operative word cropping up throughout the document, as in, “The roots of ‘terrorism’ are in the human injustice committed and in the evil of the occupation.” The human injustices Israel supposedly committed are compared to the former apartheid of South Africa and are said to deserve the same resistance. Therefore, the international community––including religious institutions, individuals, companies, and states––should “engage in divestment and in an economic and commercial boycott of everything produced by the occupation.” In short, Israel should be economically strangled into surrendering to its enemies.
The document claims the following:
- The separation wall built to restrict Palestinian suicide bombers from entering Israeli towns is inexcusable: The “cruel war Israel launched against [Gaza] during December 2008 and January 2009” has allegedly forced people there “to live in inhuman conditions, under permanent blockade and cut off from the other Palestinian territories.” Also castigated are the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria (West Bank), which are seen as illegal seizures of Palestinian property.
- Terrorism against innocent Jewish civilians is merely legitimate resistance: “The injustice against the Palestinian people which is the Israeli occupation, is an evil that must be resisted. It is an evil and a sin that must be resisted and removed. Primary responsibility for this rests with the Palestinians themselves.” It also states, “Yes, there is Palestinian resistance to the occupation. However, if there were no occupation, there would be no resistance, no fear and no insecurity.”
- Israel should free Palestinians incarcerated for terrorism: “And the prisoners? The thousands of prisoners languishing in Israeli prisons are part of our reality. The Israelis move heaven and earth to gain the release of one prisoner, and those thousands of Palestinian prisoners, when will they have their freedom?”
- Israel is responsible for the abysmal Palestinian refugee problem: “Refugees are also part of our reality. Most of them are still living in camps under difficult circumstances. They have been waiting for their right of return, generation after generation. What will be their fate?”
- Emigration of Christians from Palestinian areas is also laid at the feet of the “occupation”: “The absence of any vision or spark of hope for peace and freedom pushes young people, both Muslim and Christian, to emigrate. Thus the land is deprived of its most important and richest resource––educated youth.”
- Israel is further accused of using “fear and security” as a pretext for aggression: “We call on Israel to give up its injustice towards us, not to twist the truth of reality of the occupation by pretending that it is a battle against terrorism. The roots of ‘terrorism’ are in the human injustice committed and in the evil of the occupation. These must be removed if there be a sincere intention to remove ‘terrorism.’”
The Blame Game
Especially noteworthy is that the positions expressed in this document appear to be almost entirely the same as those of militant Islamists. The broad implication is that Israelis must become virtual pacifists; and, in the name of “faith, hope, and love,” relinquish their quest for security with no shred of evidence that the forces determined to destroy them will play by the same rules. The irrefutable fact is that Islamist radicals operate not only among Palestinian hard-liners but wherever they can in a worldwide war against free societies, particularly those with Judeo-Christian roots.
This document is permeated with inaccuracies. For example, the Christian exodus from the region cannot be blamed on Israel. Bethlehem, where the Kairos Palestine Document was forged, stands as a glaring testimonial to the drive by radical Muslims to send Christians fleeing for their lives. It is the well-documented and openly declared position of radical Islamists to clear the entire Middle East of its Christian presence. The aim is not restricted to the theoretical. The fact is that radical Islamists are the major persecutors of Christians in a host of countries the world over that have significant Muslim populations.
To suggest that Israel has no interest in peace is a monumental distortion of reality. Every overture of reconciliation that Israel has ever made through unilateral land concessions (and there have been many, the Gaza giveaway being a prime example) and every Israeli expression of willingness to live side by side with a Palestinian state have been rebuffed by the Palestinian leadership. In short, Palestinian church leaders would do well to direct their ire in the right direction: toward the Islamic radicals who have hijacked control of the Palestinian people and contribute daily to their deprivation and misery.
Getting to the Root of the Problem
This issue of Israel My Glory is devoted to theology and the impact it has, positive and negative, in our society. The issue at hand provides dramatic evidence that doctrine matters. There is an overwhelming amount of theological animosity toward Israel, and Christians who support the right of a Jewish state to exist in its God-given land are treated as enemy number one of the Palestinian people. Those who hold to what has become known as Replacement Theology refuse to connect any biblical associations with Jewish rights to a modern homeland. Furthermore, they give no quarter to an agree-to-disagree theological analysis of the question of Jewish rights. Indeed, the opposite is true, which seems to be the norm for them. They believe the church has replaced Israel and is now the true “Israel of God.” All promises in the Bible––Old and New Testaments––related to a literal, historical future for Israel are, for them, null and void.
Furthermore, we know that certain theologians in the West try to attach a biblical and theological legitimacy to the infringement of our rights. Thus, the promises, according to their interpretation, have become a menace to our very existence. The “good news” in the Gospel itself has become a “harbinger of death” for us.
…We declare that any theology, seemingly based on the Bible or on faith or on history, that legitimizes the occupation, is far from Christian teachings, because it calls for violence and holy war in the name of God Almighty, subordinating God to temporary human interests, and distorting the divine image in the human beings living under both political and theological injustice.
…Our word to the Churches of the world…is a message of solidarity with those Christians and Churches who have suffered because of their advocacy for law and justice. However, it is also a call to repentance; to revisit fundamentalist theological positions that support certain unjust political options with regard to the Palestinian people. It is a call to stand alongside the oppressed and preserve the word of God as good news for all rather than turn it into a weapon with which to slay the oppressed.2
These references to the “occupation” disavow the very existence of Israel as a country, the legitimacy of which Replacement Theology advocates deny. Beyond this, people who advocate, on biblical grounds, the right of Jewish people to a national home in the land God gave them are accused of using their theology as a “harbinger of death” for Palestinian Christians and Muslims. Also alleged is that Christians who believe in biblical, historical, moral, and legal justification for a contemporary Jewish state are guilty of politicizing the gospel. Yet these accusations appear in a document that is not only rife with political positions but with rhetoric that is a radicalized, theological vilification of the State of Israel and conservative Christians who happen to disagree with the Kairos position.
To Love or Not to Love
In one of the lowest forms of unjustified smearing of the opposition, these people accuse those who disagree with them of being unloving and bent on the death of Palestinians, who are depicted as victims of their unscrupulous Israeli tormentors. For those of us who live in the world of theological and historical reality, the Palestinian people––especially Palestinian Christians––are, indeed, victimized daily, but by radical elements who have usurped authority and use Palestinian suffering as a pawn in their rampage toward regional conquest. Contrary to what Christians on the Kairos enemies list are accused of, supporters of Israel still love the Palestinian and Arab people. We do not wish them dead. We do not wish them to suffer. We do, however, support a just settlement of the conflict, with Israelis and Palestinians living with security and mutual regard for life and liberty.
Frankly, the charges brought by these “Christian leaders” accusing other Christians of criminal collaboration to instigate genocide are unworthy of true Christianity––liberal or conservative.
The gospel of the Bible propagates a message of love and redemption for all of those who will believe; and our unassailable com-mission is to make Him known, without reservation, to all people everywhere. It is a literal, perpetual mandate that does not diminish with time or cultural fluctuations. In like manner, biblical promises to the Jewish people remain a sacrosanct reality. Promises God gave in perpetuity are not tarnished by time or the flow of secular history that seems to chart a contrary course.
Accordingly, the Jewish people remain the People of the Book, God’s Chosen People, and exist in their ancient homeland today as a modern miracle. These facts stand as the harbinger for all Jehovah has promised for the future. Put another way, the biblical road map places coming events in the hands of the Messiah. And every assurance for the future rests on His promise to return and set things right. This truth should be the source of our unity as true Christians––Palestinian or otherwise.
Abraham, in a state of perplexity over the future of Sodom and the righteous few in that notoriously iniquitous place, asked a question: “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen. 18:25). He did, He does, and He will. That is the substance of our hope.
- The Kairos Palestine Document, Nov. 12, 2009, World Council of Churches <oikoumene.org/gr/resources/documents/other-ecumenical-bodies/kairos-palestine-document.html>.